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black friday logistics

The Impact of Black Friday on the Logistics Industry

Black Friday is, without doubt, the busiest day of the year for couriers, delivery drivers and retailers across the world, who are responsible for ensuring orders and deliveries run smoothly. This phenomenon has been a fixture in the UK retail calendar for the last six years with last year seeing over 60% of us take advantage of the hoards of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on offer, spending an average of £315 each! Consequently, these two days of intense shopping can be the most challenging for logistics companies due to the sheer number of orders that need to be processed and delivered as a result.

This year’s sales event will see around 30 million orders placed on Black Friday – 21 million of which will be delivered to customers’ homes – according to BearingPoint. This works out at around five times the normal daily volume, equating to an extra 210,000 van trips.

Despite not celebrating Thanksgiving, the UK has embraced this US shopping tradition in the last few years with Cyber Monday becoming one of the busiest online shopping days of the retail calendar, surpassing Black Friday. Consumers love the ability to compare prices, avoid crowds and get 24 hour access (sometimes longer) to the deals, ideal for those time-strapped shoppers. Last year, British shoppers spent over £7 billion during the Black Friday weekend and it’s predicted that 2019 will only get bigger.

Logistics companies need to be on top of potential issues they might come across during this holiday weekend. TNT surveyed UK businesses on their main concerns during these sales, finding that 27% were worried they didn’t have the right stock, 25% had concerns they were not be able to service their deliveries and 21% feared they wouldn’t have enough team members to handle the increased demand.

In the 2019 Logistics Report, it was reported that 15% of HGV driver vacancies are not being filled because of a skills shortage. With an ageing workforce and a lack of young entrants in the industry it’s no wonder that stats from the FTA report that only 1% of HGV drivers are under the age of 25, with the average age of a driver being about 53 years old. We talk about this more on our blog.

Troubles arise when planning for a period like this isn’t done in adequate depth. Companies need back up plans – and back up vehicles – in place for when the supply chain suffers delays that could potentially have disastrous knock-on effects for the rest of the weekend. To combat this, companies need to increase the size of their workforce to match the number of hands needed to manage the influx of orders. However, hiring staff can also put a strain on the supply chain as it is imperative that all new workers must be trained to do their job safely and efficiently, which takes a lot of planning and organisation.

Here at Drivers Direct, we specialise in the recruitment and placement of temporary and permanent drivers of all classes. Our team consists of Transport Professionals with decades of experience giving us the unique ability to supply many different types of vehicle; along with experienced, professional drivers, taken from our agency workforce. We also specialise in driver assessments and ongoing periodic training to meet the varying demands placed on organisations during the holiday season.

What do you think about Black Friday?  Let us know on Twitter.

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HGV Drivers: the Beating Heart of the UK Economy

HGV Drivers: the Beating Heart of the UK Economy

 

Could you imagine life without next day delivery? Logistics and professional drivers are the beating heart of the UK economy. According to the FTA, over 90% of everything the public eat, drink, wear and build with travels on an HGV at some point in the supply chain.

 

Logistics operators and HGV drivers are the heroes that keep our shops full, even whilst the industry faces a driver shortage and skills gap.  With Brexit looming, this is expected to worsen as restrictions will be put in place, affecting international workers in the UK.

 

In the 2019 Logistics Report, it was reported that 15% of HGV driver vacancies are not being filled because of a skills shortage; which poses the question: how much longer can we keep the hero status? With an ageing workforce and a lack of young entrants in the industry, it is now so important to change young people’s perceptions of a career in logistics. Stats from the FTA report that only 1% of HGV drivers are under the age of 25, with the average age of a driver being about 53 years old. In fact, 47% of all drivers are over 50 years of age.

 

Think Logistics, a volunteer-led programme sponsored by the FTA, promotes careers in logistics within schools and colleges.  They engage with students through workshops and presentations to explain what logistics is – also addressing any misconceptions about the sector.  Many kids have negative perceptions of the sector and this can have an adverse effect on attracting young people to logistics. However, we know that if the industry worked together, we could have more success highlighting the opportunities this sector has to offer.

 

The FTA has suggested the Government should reform the Apprenticeship Levy and replace it with a Training Levy – opening more doors for vocational training and workers, as well as ensuring the upskilling of the UK’s workforce.  At Drivers Direct, we fully support and are actively encouraging more young people into the industry – we provide training and assessments for our own drivers on behalf of our clients, as well as in-house training for other nationwide companies.

 

In schools there can be a cultured expectation and pressure on pupils to attend university -with a heavy focus on the importance of a degree.  However, there is not enough appreciation for the vocational subjects and professional driving jobs that have a hand in the success of the UK’s supply chain.  We feel the Government needs to use its voice and platform to raise awareness of the logistics industry.

 

It is vital now more than ever to have clarity on Brexit, to help EU HGV drivers who are facing uncertainty with their job positions in the UK.  If we want to continue to be the heroes that keep our shops full, we need to get young people interested in the industry whilst they are still at school and show them the career paths available to them aside from university.  We need to see a change in the statistics, so that we are no longer a part of an ageing workforce.

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Drivers Direct Logistics

Professional Driving Careers: Changing Young People’s Perceptions

 

It’s no secret that the logistics industry has become increasingly concerned over the issue of a drivers shortage in the UK.  With an ageing workforce, a dependence on EU workers and a lack of new entrants, it’s created a cause for concern – with logistics the beating heart of the country, it’s incredibly important to change young people’s perceptions of working as a professional driver.  Changing attitudes towards a career in logistics will fill the skills gap and alleviate the pressures on the sector and current workers.

 

The Freight Transport Association(FTA) is in its third year of sponsorship of Think Logistics, a volunteer-led programme that promotes careers in logistics within schools and colleges.  It engages with students through workshops and presentations to explain what logistics is all about – whilst also clearing up any misconceptions about the sector.

 

It’s a great step in the right direction for leaders in the industry to use their connections to trigger change.  In 2016 and 2017, the FTA exhibited at the Skills Show in Birmingham, an event which is visited by over 80,000 students, teachers and parents.  Through their work with organisations like Think Logistics, the FTA has been able to connect with young people and circulate materials that paint a picture of the industry – using case studies and bespoke career brochures.  With poor sector image being one of the reasons for bypassing a logistics career, it’s really important to highlight all of the opportunities across the sector, as well as within HGV driving.

 

A professional driving career is rewarding with the opportunity to plan your hours to suit your lifestyle – of course as long as delivery targets are met and the DVSA guidelines are met.  It’s guaranteed that you’ll meet new people every day, certainly a far cry from the misconception that it’s a lonely career.  HGV driving also gives you the opportunity to travel up and down the country and see new places and you’ll still have consistent contact with other employees at your base.

 

In its campaign for changing young people’s perceptions, the FTA are suggesting the Government should reform the Apprenticeship Levy to replace with a Training Levy – opening more doors for vocational training and workers, as well as ensuring the upskilling of the UK’s workforce. There’s also been encouragement for the Government to allow businesses to have a freer rein over what skills they require from apprenticeships, which in turn will support internal training.  As part of its campaign, the FTA have also called for the Government to use its voice to raise awareness of the logistics industry for job prospects to further support the efforts of industry leaders.

 

At Drivers Direct, we fully support this move to encourage more young people into the industry.  We provide trainingand assessments for our own drivers on behalf of our clients as well as in-house training for prestigious transport companies nationwide.  If you know a young person considering a career in logistics, be sure to point them in the direction of Think Logistics’ website, which has a breakdown of the various positions within transport.  To our fellow friends in the industry, if we all continue to work together and raise the profile of a career in logistics, we can make a difference.

 

 

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Drivers Direct MD Meets With Chris Grayling

Drivers Direct MD Meets With Chris Grayling

Our MD Gethin Roberts recently met with Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State Transport.  As a respected spokesperson within the industry, Gethin raised a number of subjects with Mr. Grayling to gain further knowledge on what is being done to support drivers, UK roads and the logistics sector as a whole.  The behind the scenes aspect of goods and products are often overlook, but professional drivers and our industry is the beating heart of the country.  This is why it’s so important to ensure the smooth-running of commercial road operations, whether it’s to do with road conditions, connectivity or opportunities for future drivers and the driver shortage.

 

Firstly, they discussed better ways that logistics companies could spend their apprenticeship levy in order to support the retention of drivers and assist with the driver shortage that is still very much a primary issue within the industry.  Gethin emphasised that a reduction in classroom-based training would be conducive for both companies and individuals who are looking to become professional drivers.  In place of this, more attention could be put on Licence Acquisition as it makes more sense for trainee HGV drivers to acquire more experience from inside a cab as opposed to inside a classroom.  Learning theory, is of course, important but putting it into practice straight away could add a stronger element of preparation for hauliers.

 

Roadworks on motorways were briefly touched on with Gethin enquiring about restrictions on the length and number of roadworks on any one motorway at any given time.  This was a point that Chris Grayling certainly agreed with, whilst being understanding that existing works would need to continue as planned.

 

As Gethin met with Chris at Crewe Train Station, they also discussed creating a dual carriageway between Crewe and Nantwich.  The A500 could be dualled from the M6 – J16 through to the first Crewe roundabout – creating better traffic flow.

 

The advantages of building a strong road infrastructure across the UK, East to West, are also recognised by Chris and his department and Gethin was informed that they are currently exploring a number of options to support this.

We hope to see some positive changes to UK roads and more importantly, a decrease in the current driver shortage.

 

Do you have any thoughts on the areas that Gethin covered with Chris Grayling?  Tweet us at @DriversDirect.

 

 

 

 

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Drivers Direct Office Opens in Bury St Edmunds Office

Drivers Direct Office Opens in Bury St Edmunds Office

We are thrilled to announce that we have opened a new Drivers Direct franchise in Bury St Edmunds on Angel Hill – the latest addition to our network of branches across the country as we look to expand to keep up with the growing demand from our clients.

 

On 4th February, local photographer Andy Abbott came along to document the launch and take photos of Drivers Direct MD Gethin Roberts and the Bury St Edmunds team, including Franchise Directors John and Bev Major, as well as Recruitment Consultant, Lewis Abel.

 

 

Our new office will offer more jobs in both the professional driving and recruitment industries to East Anglia.  We’ve appointed John & Bev Major as directors, following their success heading the Northampton office.  We’re looking forward to building a strong client base in the region and we’ve already had an encouragingly high volume of temporary HGV drivers pre-register.

 

With plenty of narrative surrounding driver shortages in the UK circulating in the media over the last couple of years, we feel it’s a step in the right direction for the sector to be opening another branch and creating more opportunities in the industry.

 

Gethin Roberts comments: “We’re delighted to be opening our third franchise in Bury St Edmunds and to be bringing new jobs to another region of the country.  The office will be managed by a strong team who have a wealth of experience, ensuring our customers will receive top quality service.”

 

John Major, Director of the new office adds: “After the great success we’ve had in Northampton, we’re looking forward to building another successful Drivers Direct franchise and establishing ourselves as key recruiters in Bury St Edmunds.”

 

If you’d like to register for any upcoming jobs, give our team of friendly professionals a call on 01284 763476 to see what we have available.

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Drivers Direct: Christmas Traditions

Drivers Direct: Christmas Traditions

Christmas is just around the corner and we can’t believe how quickly the year has gone – it feels like just yesterday that we shared our year in review blog last December.

 

We’ve had an excellent year here at Drivers Direct, from being finalists in a number of business awards to having another successful annual charity ball.  The ball was the perfect opportunity to raise money £2500 for the NSPCC and we’re looking forward to presenting them with their donation at the beginning of 2019.

 

As our last blog post of 2018, we thought we’d take the opportunity to acknowledge someone else that works just as hard as Father Christmas at this time of year!  Our MD Gethin Roberts has made it a Christmas tradition to visit all 21 of our branches to personally deliver presents, including bottles of fizz and chocolates.

 

 

Gethin spends 2 weeks on the run up to Christmas, travelling from branch to branch to visit all of the teams.  He feels it is important for all the Drivers Direct employees to be able to put a name to a face, giving the business a personal feel which might not necessarily be given in a company as large as Drivers Direct.  As Managing Director, Gethin puts a lot of effort into boosting morale and creating the feeling of truly being a part of a team for all employees.

Drivers Direct: Christmas Traditions

 

We give a lot of credence to our mission statement: ‘By offering the experience, quality awareness and support of a big company with the flexibility, innovation and personal touch of a small company we will supply all our clients with the best of both worlds’

 

Our mission statement is also applicable to our employees, as we strive to give them plenty of opportunity within their career and the support of a big company, whilst also offering the personal touch of a small company.  This is something that Gethin upholds as he travels up and down the country every Christmas time without fail.  For Drivers Direct it’s all about making our employees feel valued and appreciated and what better time to do that than at Christmas?

 

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all from Drivers Direct.

 

 

 

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Professional Drivers & Cyclists: Keeping a Harmonious Relationship

Drivers Direct on: The Value of Quality Drivers

There is no denying that logistics and professional drivers are the beating heart of the UK economy – as the FTA’s Peter Snelling so aptly put it: “Over 90% of everything the public eat, drink, wear and build with travels on an HGV at some point in the supply chain.” Such a figure throws a sharp focus on our industry, and highlights the value of quality professional drivers – who can sometimes be overlooked by the public eye.

 

With the ever-increasing popularity of online shopping and at-home deliveries, the looming threat of Brexit and its effect on a driving skills’ shortage which we discussed at length last month, the need for our professional drivers to be highly trained with efficiency, reliability and integrity has never been higher.

 

And it’s not just the technicalities of the economic climate and consumer shift to e-commerce which places a strong need for an increase in the numbers of highly-skilled professional drivers. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, the value of quality drivers is often overlooked: the ‘behind the scenes’ part of the supply chain rarely acknowledged by the end user. However, whenever professional driving – in particular, HGVs – are acknowledged, there seems to be a worrying pattern: type in ‘HGV’ or ‘lorry’ into Google News and you’ll be greeted with plethora of negativity – vehicle collisions, cyclist accidents and poor driver behaviour.

 

When professional drivers are ‘behind the scenes’, the majority of the public’s knowledge and, therefore, opinions of HGV drivers comes from the media. So, when the majority of the mainstream consumer media’s stories about HGV drivers only focuses on the minority of poor drivers’ actions, the public’s opinion is going to be skewed.

 

Whilst there is little we can do to persuade the media to present a more balanced view when ‘disaster stories’ bring in online clicks and revenue, it does present an even more important need for professional drivers to be of the highest quality with proper training and qualifications – we must ensure that through our work every day on Britain’s roads, we are showing that the majority of drivers are safe, conscientious and respectful as they work as the major player in an efficient supply chain to ensure businesses across Britain can continue to thrive.

 

There’s little point in simply discussing the importance of high-quality drivers – we must ensure it is actioned. Which is why we’re incredibly proud of Drivers Direct Training, our own internal scheme. We provide both training and assessments for our own drivers on behalf of our clients, or in-house for companies with their own fleet of drivers. With classroom-based driver development courses we can help you or your drivers progress and improve – offering courses covering basic health and safety and heathy eating, right the way through to driver security, customer care, and fuel efficiency.

 

Training is something businesses must invest in – not only will it help to build the reputation of the logistics and transport industry, but provides significant peace of mind and ROI knowing that the drivers you employ are of the highest quality, working on the roads with honesty and autonomous motivation for your business’ needs.

 

If you’d like to learn more about Drivers Direct Training, and how our trained drivers can deliver the best results for your business, get in touch with our team today.

 

 

 

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How to Get Your Foot on the Logistics Career Ladder

The thought of a career change is a prospect which is exhilarating and daunting in equal measure. The endless opportunities and the chance to completely change your day to day activities is an incredibly exciting thought, but then the question must be asked: how do I even start a new career?

For those thinking about switching lanes (pun very much intended) and making the move into a career as a professional driver, we have a simple message: you’ll be choosing a rewarding career, and help is out there to make this a reality.

Now, as a professional driving recruitment firm, of course we’ll say it’s a rewarding career – but here’s why. Working in the logistics and transport sector can mean flexible hours – ideal for those looking to start a family. The industry is one where you’re always supported by a dedicated team and build strong relationships, but the ability to travel the country has a sense of autonomy. Then there’s the salary benefits – the supply chain is an industry the country simply cannot function without, and of course a career in logistics can lead to opportunities in management and running your own fleet.

The first thing to consider when thinking about becoming a professional driver is whether you have the characteristics to suit the work. You must enjoy driving, employ patience, possess a strong knowledge and respect of road safety, enjoy your own company, display strong self-motivation and be in good physical condition.

There’s more to the job than sitting behind the wheel though, you’ll likely plan delivery schedules and routes with transport managers, monitor traffic reports to make sure your routes are clear, as well as carrying out general maintenance checks on your vehicle before and after journeys.

To become a professional driver, youmust be 18 years old or over and hold a full car driving license.  The next stage would be to find a reputable local LGV learner driver training provider, take & pass your test and then receive CPC Training, here at Drivers Direct we’re a JAUPT accredited CPC Training Centre – as we said, the help is here.  We offer training to our own drivers on behalf of our clients, as well as in-house training for prestigious transport companies.  Via our website, we also offer a free digital tachograph simulator download which includes interactive tutorials which will take you through the different types of tacho machines.

In terms of working hours, they could vary but in a permanent position you can be expected to work up to 42 hours a week and overtime may be available, but the laws are strict (for good reason) on the number of hours spent driving and working in between rest breaks to ensure the safety of all road users.

We have a wide network of branches throughout the UK, offering vacancies for all classes of driver, you can view the positions here.  We operate within a wide range of sectors including postal, food production, DIY, building trade, general haulage and clothing distribution.  If you’re looking to hit certain requirements, as a customer of Drivers Direct, we can help you do that – why not get in touch and see what we can offer to your business to reach its goals?

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Drivers Direct on: Recruitment, Logistics & Brexit

Drivers Direct on: Recruitment, Logistics & Brexit

It’s been hard to ignore the b-word that’s been on everyone’s lips and in the media since 29th March 2017.  Brexit has no doubt been the talk of the country and the world for that matter.  Ever since the referendum results were announced there’s been numerous companies offering their perspective on what they think it will mean for not just the UK but also their own businesses.  With Brexit we’re plunging into the unknown and the UK want answers.

 

With the recruitment sector and Brexit there’s been worries over talent shortages and questions over movability, especially as the recent whitepaper released by the Government stated that there would be free movement.  The report aims to offer a clear vision of what they want to achieve upon exiting the EU – but many are still feeling very much in the dark.  The one saving grace is that the UK plans to negotiate an arrangement that would allow UK nationals to visit the EU for short-term businesses purposes and vice versa for EU citizens.  This would offset any pressure on companies that have link to the EU, for example other offices or business partners.

 

However, some businesses have expressed their doubt in the Government’s ability to proceed successfully with Brexit plans.  The second quarter of 2018 has also seen some recruitment difficulties across various sectors including manufacturing, retail and hospitality – right down to fruit farmers, who are facing a lack of seasonal labourers leading to produce spoiling with too few hands.  It’s vital that UK businesses are brought out of the dark to find out what they can expect following the introduction of Brexit.

 

Recruitment in the professional driving industry, particularly with HGV drivers, is experiencing a similar issue to the fruit farmers.  Workers from the EU are staying in their home countries instead of coming over to the UK for work due to the uncertainty that Brexit poses as we near the leaving date with very little decisions made for the industry.  The Government is still working out the knots for their Brexit plans but the professional driving industry is already experiencing driver shortages, meaning clarity is urgently needed not only for UK businesses, but EU workers too.

 

James Hookham, the Deputy Chief Executive of the Freight Transport

Association recently told industry press that although the recent whitepaper had offered positive proposals for certain areas of the logistics industry, issues such as the security of job status for skilled EU workers are still unspoken for.  The free movement of workers between the UK and EU needs to have further explanation, as well as providing reassurance to businesses who depend on those workers for the continuity of their deliveries.  Over 45,000 HGV drivers from Europe currently work in the UK; without the appropriate working permits, job losses could have a serious effect on the industry.

 

It’s safe to say that there’s been a lot of upset over the thought of the UK leaving the EU, with some even claiming it’ll have an apocalyptic effect!  At this stage in the game, we’re hoping for clarity for the recruitment sector as a whole, as well as what Brexit will mean for foreign drivers and working permits.  As an area that was lightly touched on in the Brexit whitepaper compared to other aspects of logistics, we hope to see a lot more discussion on it in the coming months.

 

 

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From the Front Lines to The Cab

From the Front Lines to The Cab

There’s no doubt that leaving the UK’s Armed Forces can be a daunting prospect, regardless of how long you’ve served.  Moving from the structured lifestyle of the forces to the quieter life as a civilian is a huge life-changing event and the rate of each individual’s transition varies depending on their experiences.  With this in mind, it should be remembered throughout this post that no two ex-service personnel are the same.

Here at Drivers Direct, we feel very passionately about helping ex-servicemen and women back into civilian life.  With our MD Gethin Roberts being an ex-serviceman himself, we understand that it can be difficult to get used to normal everyday life again.  Last year we were proud to raise £2,500 for the Victory Services Club in London following our annual employee black-tie ball.  We’re very supportive of the work they do as they aid both serving and ex-service personnel and their families.

Service personnel possess a great wealth of skills and a second-to-none work ethos that is truly unique.  Their skills can be so specialised that they may feel they have the wrong qualifications to work in a civilian role – but this isn’t the case!

In the Armed Forces, there’s a real sense of camaraderie and family where you’ll spend each day with the same people – leaving that behind can seem strange.  Not having the same weight of responsibility put upon yourself each day will also appear to be a strange concept, but our company prides itself in helping ex-service personnel into the professional driving industry.  As we recruit for temporary and flexible driving positions, we’re a great avenue for slowly introducing yourself back into the world of civilian work; and you could even find your new career.

Currently in the UK the logistics and delivery sector are experiencing a driver shortage which is in vital need of a solution and with Brexit drawing closer, this shortage has been predicted to worsen.

Being a professional driver for Drivers Direct brings many perks, offering a flexible lifestyle and the option to pick the jobs you want to do.  You’ll also have the chance to travel around the country, and meet fellow drivers and Logistics personnel. As a Logistics professional you’ll have your managers and fellow drivers and people you meet on the road to interact with, but you’ll always have your own personal space in your own cab.

To find out more how Drivers Direct can help you transition from the Armed Forces into a professional driver career, please get in touch with us.

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